AMD Radeon HD 6990 4GB Video Card AUSUM Mode in CrossFireX

Two cores on one card is all great and that, but let's get two cards and four cores in our testbed system for a real party.
| Mar 18, 2011 at 10:46 pm CDT
Manufacturer: AMD

Introduction, The Card and Specifications

Introduction

VIEW GALLERY - 27 IMAGES


We've seen CrossFire really blossom since the launch of the HD 6000 series with just some insane performance gains being seen from these new single GPU cards. When throwing in a second card we're seeing gains that sometimes equate to almost double the performance. Considering that you can't really expect any more than that, it's really amazing to see AMD really put huge amounts of effort into the improvement of this technology.

Moving to more than two GPUs has never yielded the same performance increases. The HD 5970 as good as a card it was, when you went down the path of two the performance was really quite uneventful. Sure, there were pieces of shining light here and there, but on a whole it was a tough recommendation to go down the four GPU path.

So with all these performance improvements with the latest generation of cards from AMD, how does that translate with the new dual GPU beast from AMD which when in CrossFireX carries with it four GPUs?

With the help of our second HD 6990 from AMD we're going to find out exactly what's going on today. Because it's a reference card, we'll just have a quick look at the card itself as there's no package. Then we'll just quickly run over the specifications.


The Card

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Of course, you're not really seeing anything here that you didn't see from the Sapphire version with the fan in the middle of the card blowing onto two Vapor Chamber coolers. The card is powered by two 8-Pin PCI-E power connectors and we've got our single CrossFire connector and BIOS switch that enables "AUSUM" mode. Connectivity comes in the form of four mini DisplayPort connectors and a single Dual-Link DVI.


Specifications

Because our time with this HD 6990 is quite limited and it really has to do the rounds, we thought we'd just crank the card into AUSUM mode which means our core comes in at 880MHz instead of 830MHz which you can see below.

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As for the 4GB of RAM, that comes in at 5GHz and the most important piece of information here is the CrossFire tab which shows us that the technology is indeed enabled, and in this case is running 4 GPUs.

Test System Setup and 3DMark 11

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASRock, Kingston, Mittoni, Noctua and Corsair.

We've got a whole mess of cards here we'll be comparing the HD 6990 CFX setup against including the HD 6990 by itself along with the HD 6870, HD 6950 and HD 6970 all in CrossFire.

For NVIDIA we've got the GTX 580, GTX 560 Ti in SLI and the GTX 580 in SLI.

Let's get started!


3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/
Buy It Here




3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Straight away we just see some massive performance out of the gate that puts the HD 6990 CFX setup way ahead of everything else here.

3DMark Vantage

3DMark Vantage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/
Buy It Here




3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.

3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.

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Vantage offers us some insane performance and you can see in the X preset the setup just kills the two card GTX 580 one which is even making use of PhysX.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 2
Developer Homepage: http://www.unigine.com
Product Homepage: http://unigine.com/press-releases/091022-heaven_benchmark//



New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

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Getting into Heaven, we see that tessellation is no longer an issue for AMD with just some crazy performance here that sees the HD 6990 CFX setup break almost 4000.

Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5

Version and / or Patch Used: Demo Benchmark
Developer Homepage: www.residentevil.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.residentevil.com/




Resident Evil 5 is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on September 18. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.

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With some massive frames already, the gains aren't huge, but at least there's no negative impact on performance.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/UK/default.aspx
Product Homepage: http://www.hawxgame.com/




Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 is an arcade-style flight action game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft. The game is the sequel to Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., released in 2009.

The game begins with Colonel David Crenshaw participating in a routine patrol mission in the Middle East. After halting an insurgent attack, a volley of missiles is fired at the Air Force base that Crenshaw was stationed at, with one of the missiles disabling Crenshaw's aircraft, resulting Crenshaw being in enemy captivity. A joint strike force composed of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and a Ghost Recon squad executes an operation to rescue Crenshaw. In Scotland, Royal Navy Pilot Colin Munro encounters an unidentified passenger aircraft that explodes from an on-board bomb when undergoing training exercise. In Russia, an air force squadron led by Colonel Denisov and Captain Dmitri Sokov engages separatist aircraft but is ordered to retreat from the region after numerous Russian military installations have been attacked.

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Under H.A.W.X. 2 it becomes clear we're hitting a bit of a wall at around the 270 FPS mark with the card hitting that mark at every resolution.

Benchmarks - Mafia II

Mafia II

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.2kczech.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.mafia2game.com/
Buy It Here




Mafia II is a third-person action-adventure video game, the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. It is developed by 2K Czech, previously known as Illusion Softworks, and is published by 2K Games. The game is set from 1943 to 1951 in Empire Bay (the name is a reference to New York's state nickname "The Empire State"), a fictional city based on San Francisco and New York City, with influences from Chicago and Detroit. The game features a completely open-ended game map of 10 square miles. No restrictions are included from the start of the game. There are around 50 vehicles in the game, as well as licensed music from the era.

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Unlike the NVIDIA offerings the AMD cards seem to hit a bit of a wall at around the 110 FPS mark. We've got great FPS across the board, but it would be nice to see it get into the 170s like the NVIDIA SLI setup is capable of.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Test A Scene 1
Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.lostplanet2game.com/




Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition which is also made by Capcom, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. The story takes place back on E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. The snow has melted to reveal jungles and more tropical areas that have taken the place of more frozen regions. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates. After destroying a mine, the Mercenaries continue on to evacuate the area, in which a Category-G Akrid appears and attacks them. After being rescued, they find out their evacuation point (Where the Category-G appeared) was a set-up and no pick up team awaited them. The last words imply possible DLC additions to the game, "There's nothing to be gained by wiping out snow pirates... unless you had some kind of grudge."

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Lost Planet 2 is really making use of the performance on offer here and we can see gains of almost 100% at the highest resolution. This is very impressive and it just goes to show that if the game is intensive enough, you'll be able to make use of the power on offer.

Benchmarks - Aliens vs. Predator

Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.rebellion.co.uk/
Product Homepage: http://www.sega.com/games/aliens-vs-predator/




Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

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Aliens vs. Predator finds absolutely no gains in performance. Here it seems that there's not even another card in the system. We did run over the test a few times and double check everything, but it was all working fine. Aliens vs. Predator just didn't want to make use of those extra GPUs.

Benchmarks - Street Fighter IV

Street Fighter IV

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.streetfighter.com/




While Street Fighter IV features models and backgrounds rendered in 3D, the gameplay remains on a traditional 2D plane, with the camera having freedom to move in 3D at certain times during fights, for dramatic effect. Producer Yoshinori Ono has stated that he wanted to keep the game closer to Street Fighter II. A new system called "Focus Attacks" ("Saving Attack" for the Japanese version) has been introduced, as well as Ultra moves. The traditional six-button control scheme returns, with new features and special moves integrated into the input system, mixing classic gameplay with additional innovations.

All the characters and environments in Street Fighter IV are rendered as 3D models with polygons, similar to the Street Fighter EX sub-series Capcom produced with Arika. However, there are a couple of key differences. Art director and character designer Daigo Ikeno, who previously worked on Street Fighter III 3rd Strike, opted for non-photorealistic rendering to give them a hand-drawn look, with visual effects accented in calligraphic strokes, ink smudges and ink sprays during the fights.

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Like some of our other games, we're hitting a wall; in this case the wall is at over 400 FPS, but it's funny to see no change in performance no matter what resolution you run at.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/
Buy It Here




The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

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Under Far Cry 2 the average across the board seems to hit a wall at around the 220 FPS mark. The minimum department seems to take a little bit of a drop across the board. At least we're still getting a massive minimum FPS score.

Benchmarks - Batman Arkham Asylum

Batman Arkham Asylum

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com/





Batman: Arkham Asylum exposes players to a unique, dark and atmospheric adventure that takes them to the depths of Arkham Asylum - Gotham's psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Gamers will move in the shadows, instigate fear amongst their enemies and confront The Joker and Gotham City's most notorious villains who have taken over the asylum.

Using a wide range of Batman's gadgets and abilities, players will become the invisible predator and attempt to foil The Joker's demented scheme.
Batman: Arkham Asylum features an original story penned exclusively for the game by famous Batman author and five-time Emmy award winner Paul Dini, whose credits include Lost season one and Batman: The Animated Series.

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Batman AA continues to give us extremely impressive numbers, but the benefits from CrossFireX aren't existent here with the minimum taking a little dip again like Far Cry 2.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AF

Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.

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We're seeing some positive performance in areas, but not those massive gains like we saw in Lost Planet 2. Everything is playable which is the main thing, but you're not seeing the kind of gains here that you would probably like to see when spending this kind of money.

Temperature Test

Temperature Tests



The temperature of the core is pulled from MSI Afterburner with the max reading used after a completed run off 3DMark Vantage and the Performance preset.

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It comes as no surprise that the cards are going to get warm, but I really expected them to be a bit hotter than this. Sure, 93c is a lot, but that's the worst temp and probably the hardest working core.

Sound Test

Sound Tests



Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).

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Noise level was really good and like our other testing it did peak up to around 70dB in some of our other tests, but most of the time it sat around the 65dB mark. It was also at this when we got our core temperature, so if you wanted to up it manually a bit you could probably get all the cores under 90c still good noise levels.

Power Consumption Tests

Power Consumption Tests



Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a SSD hard drive is used with a single CD ROM and minimal cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.

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Power draw is high, but not as high as I expected. I left the "power thingy" running for a lot longer than I normally would just to make sure it wasn't going to jump to some insane amount in another area.

Total Performance Rating (TPR)

Total Performance Rating

The TPR graph is a combination of all our benchmarks in which NVIDIA and AMD are on an even playing field.

The TPR number is a combination of:

3DMark 11, Heaven Benchmark V2, Resident Evil 5, Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.2, Mafia 2 (PhysX Off), Lost Planet 2, Aliens vs. Predator, Street Fighter IV, Far Cry 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum (PhysX Off) and our four High Quality tests which include Mafia 2, Aliens vs. Predator, Street Fighter IV and Far Cry 2.

All of the benchmark results achieved are then combined into a single number. As this graph will grow over time and cards won't be re-tested, next to each model you'll find the driver version that was used when the card was benchmarked.

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It comes as no surprise that the setup went to the top of the list and that's got a lot to do with the insane 3DMark 11 score we got. Overall, though, it's clearly an insanely fast setup, but I think we need to test in a more intensive environment to really make use of it which is something we'll do when our next HD 6990 comes around.

Total Value Rating (TVR)

Total Value Rating

The TVR graph is the TPR score divided by the price of the video card. The price of the video card is based on the list price of the model on Newegg.com. In the event the card isn't listed, it will be based on the U.S. $ MSRP given to us by the manufacturer.

In the event we can't source a price from either, the product will not receive a TVR rating. As with our TPR graph, the amount of video cards on the list will grow over time and the price of the model won't change from what it was when first reviewed. For this reason the U.S. $ price that the card is based off will be included next to the name of the model.

In the event you want to find the TVR rating yourself based on the current price, all you have to do is simply divide the TPR number by the list price.

TVR numbers are rounded to the nearest whole number; 100.3 will be 100; 100.8 will be 101 and 100.5 will be rounded down to 100.

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No surprise here with the value falling to the bottom. People who buy this kind of setup don't care, though.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

I don't know what it is, but even with some games really seeing no performance boost, you can't help but love this setup. The good news is unlike the old days, there's no negative performance that is going to affect your overall gaming experience.

What we mean by that is when your Far Cry 2 minimum moves from 110 FPS to 90 FPS, your gaming experience isn't going to be affected. Under Lost Planet 2 as well we see a game that is just super intensive and is able to make fantastic use of the setup here. That one real world test shows us exactly what this setup is capable of and tells us that you don't need to have an insane triple screen monitor setup to make real use of what's on offer here.

What's funny about this setup is that the rational side of my mind just says that you can't really recommend this to most people unless they're running a massive screen setup. My giddy geek inside of me, though, says if you're on a 2560 x 1440 or 1600 monitor, go for it.

Games are getting more intensive and you can see at 2560 x 1600 a single card only just gets the 60 FPS we need to play. This setup blows that out of the water and that's exactly what you want from a setup that costs this much.

It's also the kind of setup you're going to want when we see these massive resolution 120Hz screens and the average you demand moves from 60 FPS to 120 FPS. Maybe the future proofing argument is a little premature, but Lost Planet 2, probably the most intensive game we test that also makes use of tessellation in a heavy way, really paints a picture of what the setup is capable of. And with some big name titles coming out this year you can understand why people would opt for this kind of setup.

For the most part the HD 6990 offers more power than most people need, and then this setup just offers even more power again. I can't wait to really make use of the setup in some mad triple screen benchmarking, though, which is something you need to keep an eye out for in the coming weeks.

But if you're a 2560 x 1600 user it's worth knowing that with even a single screen you can make use of this setup in the super intensive games that are made even more intensive with AA and AF.

Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:30 pm CDT

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR -

Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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